Read in Catalan

Pressure is increasing on the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) over the arrest on Wednesday over corruption charges of Koldo García, former advisor to José Luis Ábalos, current MP and a key figure in both Pedro Sánchez's government - as minister of transport - and the PSOE - as organizational secretary - until 2021. The accusations are centred on collecting illegal commissions on multi-million euro public contracts for face masks during the Covid pandemic. Now, the anticorruption prosecutors are asserting that García used Ábalos's transport ministry to speed up procedures in mask contracting, which benefited the awarding of mask contracts to the company Soluciones de Gestión, one of those at the centre of the alleged plot.

This was confirmed by the interlocutory released this Friday by National Audience investigative judge, Ismael Moreno. The document includes the prosecution's account of the alleged corruption plot, for which the police arrested 14 people this Wednesday, including Koldo García, and which gives details of the "remarkable increase" in Koldo's assets in the years following this operation of buying and selling medical equipment. In addition, the document asserts that Ábalos's ex-advisor could have benefited by 1.5 million euros as a result of the alleged illegal commissions he received for the contracts.

Former minister Ábalos has distanced himself from the arrest of Koldo García. In statements made on Wednesday, he showed himself surprised by the news of the arrest and police operation, stating that he "had no idea". The former transport minister declared that he was "stunned" and "very disappointed" by the arrest of his close collaborator, insisting that during his ministerial mandate the purchase of face masks "was done well". Nevertheless, the loud calls for the MP's resignation from political opponents, are now being reflected in some doubts within the Socialist party. The first deputy prime minister and deputy general secretary of the Socialists, María Jesús Montero, assured this Friday that even if for the moment there are no indications of criminal wrongdoing with regard to the figure of the former minister, she in his place would leave her position. "It's a decision that corresponds to him", Montero said.      

Increase in Koldo García's assets

The prosecutor considers that the use of the ministry led by Ábalos is a "relevant and revealing" piece of data, which shows the role that Koldo García could have played in "the awarding, possibly having made use of third parties close to his family circle with the possible purpose of concealing, or at least making difficult to know, the true ownership of the properties acquired". Koldo García's brother and wife were also arrested for the same plot.

The anti-corruption prosecutor asserts that there are sufficient indications to conclude that there is a "criminal organization", which was dedicated to securing the award of contracts. Commissions were allegedly collected by Koldo García for his role as a mediator and for obtaining the adjudications. In addition, several operations were also supposedly carried out in order to hide the commission payments and "to avoid the traceability of the income obtained as a result of the irregular awards". So, prosecutors conclude that between 2020 and 2022, Koldo acquired assets worth almost 1.5 million euros. "These acquisitions take place just 5 months after the public tenders for Soluciones de Gestión took place," it adds. The document adds that in this period, the increase in his cash income in general and decrease in cash provisions stand out, a fact that evidences the possible existence of another financial source "of unknown origin".